Online Advertising Sucks Because the Ads Suck

Jordan McCollum from Marketing Pilgrim breaks down the results of two recent online advertising studies that showed web visitors becoming more blind to online advertisements.

An eye-tracking study by usability guru, Jakob Nielsen included this image reinforcing how hard it is to get people to even notice ads:

Banner Blindness Tests

McCollum’s conclusion based on the studies:

The bottom line: don’t go for the flashy and annoying ads—make them look like content. For your biggest ad purchases, work with webmasters to integrate your ads into their design—use their site’s colors and fonts, tinker with placement, etc. It just might pay off.

The studies appear to look at this from a publisher’s angle. If you’re getting paid on a per click basis, how do you make the ads stand out next to your site’s content in order to generate click revenue? There are some things that can be done to trick users, such as the tip McCollum provides above. However, that’s not an ideal solution.

An IDEAL solution is one where the viewers find the ads relevant and valuable. And two things are preventing this today:

1. Marginal ad targeting technology

2. Low-quality ads.

High quality ads are ads that build an emotional attachment between the viewer and the advertiser’s company, product, or service. They’re ads that intrigue (rather than annoy) a reader. They’re ads that are as interesting (or more interesting) than the content they’re served next to.

With this in mind, I’m blaming advertisers for not building better advertisements. They’re hurting their own return and the return of publishers serving marginal ads. It’s time to turn it up a notch with truly compelling online advertising that turns readers on.

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